Keeping cadets on the straight and narrow

Internal process addresses Corps-specific violations, major issues handled by ODSL

By Samantha Mahler @mahlersamantha

While the behavior of all students is bound by laws and university rules, Aggies in the Corps of Cadets are expected to abide by an additional set of rules that govern their day-to-day life and interactions. While some infractions are dealt with inside the Corps, more serious issues are handled at the university level.

According to the Corps of Cadets’ Standard Order 5, which outlines procedures for discipline, the Corps’ prohibited actions include violation of state or federal law, University Student Rules and the Student Conduct Code, in addition to Corps-specific violations like failure to follow orders, abuse of class relationships and disrespect.

Standard Order 5 lists two categories of offenses. A Category I Offense is the more serious of the two, and only the Commandant and the Assistant Commandant for Discipline have the authority to determine Corps sanctions for those found responsible. A Category II Offense violates policies, standards, University or Corps traditions or class privileges. The Corps typically handles Category II offenses through the use of restricted weekends, marching tours and demerits.

The Corps’ discipline process begins with the initial action of reporting a violation. The cadet in violation will then be read their rights, and a charge letter will begin the hearing process, requiring the cadet to schedule a hearing.

As outlined in a memorandum of understanding between the Offices of the Dean of Student Life and the Office of the Commandant, there are certain cases that must be referred to Texas A&M’s Student Conduct Office for adjudication. These include cases involving high risk behavior like hazing, sexual misconduct, illegal drugs and physical abuse. Other cases referred to the Student Conduct Office include those that could result in expulsion or suspension from the university and those involving cadets and non-cadets. However, according to the memo, the Office of the Commandant still shares in the adjudication of these cases.

Dean of Student Life Anne Reber said students who are found responsible by the Student Conduct Office can face sanctions at the university level as well as Corps-specific sanctions from the Office of the Commandant.

Internally, the Corps uses a write-up system that starts over every semester. For example, if paperwork is turned in late, a cadet might get three demerits. After 15 demerits, cadets serve a restricted weekend in which they are not allowed to leave the Quad for an extended period of time. After receiving 45 demerits, a cadet’s membership in the Corps will come up for review.

While serious infractions are taken further up the chain of command, corrective physical training may be used by upperclassmen in a unit to correct minor discipline infractions in underclassmen. These exercises include lower body, upper body, abdominal and aerobic movements, and the use of CPT is bound by specific rules. Excessive CPT is considered hazing, so restrictions must be put in place.

According to Reber, each unit within the Corps has its own personality that may play a role in certain disciplinary issues. Both the Office of the Commandant and the Offices of the Dean of Student Life play a role in enforcing rules concerning hazing violations.

“When we investigate, we’re looking at individual behavior,” Reber said. “Then, if they find there’s a culture of behavior in one of these outfits, then the commandant steps in. We don’t sanction an outfit, not through the Student Conduct Office.”

Col. Gary Beaty, assistant commandant for discipline, said what is unique about the Corps is its high percentage of self-reported conduct cases in which cadets document their own actions that violate laws or A&M rules.

“I think that speaks a lot about the internal character of the individual cadets,” Beaty said.